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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Business groups cites Trempealeau County to show need for wind siting reform

From a newsletter article by R. J. Pirot, Director, Legislative Relations, Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC):

By 2015, state law requires ten percent of the state’s electricity to come from renewable resources. WMC is already doing its part to meet that goal. Through Madison Gas and Electric, WMC voluntarily buys half of its electricity from wind generation power plants.

Unfortunately, some local communities are starting to virtually ban development of small wind farms, stymieing Wisconsin from meeting its renewable energy goals. WMC is already working with the Wisconsin Legislature on setting fair and uniform standards to encourage wind farm development, helping Wisconsin meet its renewable energy law.

The Wisconsin Public Service Commission has authority over all power plant proposals in excess of 100 megawatts, including wind energy power plants. Local units of government have permitting authority over all power plants under 100 megawatts, including wind energy power plants. Some local units of government have imposed expensive, time-consuming and scientifically-unjustified restrictions on the development of wind energy power plants.

For example, a new Trempealeau County ordinance forbids building a wind turbine within one mile of a habitable building, effectively banning building small wind farms in the county. Other communities have taken similar action and, as a result, investment in and installation of approximately 400 megawatts of wind energy power plants are stalled in Wisconsin.

Rather than allowing a patchwork of varying local regulations, the Wisconsin Legislature should take swift action to have fair and uniform standards for wind turbines set throughout Wisconsin. Wind speeds in Wisconsin are high enough to support development of additional wind turbine farms and wind is a cost effective way to meet the state’s ten percent renewable energy law. While solar, biomass, biogas and hydroelectricity, too, will help meet this ten percent renewable energy requirement, wind power is projected to account for 95 percent of Wisconsin’s renewable energy production.

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